Friday, September 29, 2017

NFC: The Key to a Frictionless Customer Experience

“Thank you, that will be $5.49.” Jolted from your Facebook scrolling, you switch apps and tap your phone on the scanner. The act didn’t even require that you put your phone down and grab your wallet–all because of this futuristic thing called Near Field Communication. Near Field Communication, also known as NFC, is technology that uses radio frequency to transmit information between devices in close proximity. Designed with shorter range to increase security and specialization of use, the information-exchanging technology is on the rise. The upbringing of NFC has had its pros and cons, but it provides a promising future full of possibilities. Why is this advancement on our customer experience radar, and what’s keeping it hidden?

The Early Days of NFC

After its introduction in 2004, NFC began to receiving a large-scale adoption by the likes of Google and Samsung. Later, in 2016, Apple introduced NFC to its latest line of iPhones so that Apple Pay could compete against Android Pay and Samsung Pay. Also in 2004, the NFC Forum was created between major manufacturers such as Sony, Nokia, and Philips to ensure compatibility between devices. Unlike Bluetooth, NFC doesn’t require any kind of manual pairing or device discovery to transfer data. A connection is automatically started when another NFC device enters into its four-inch range. Once in range, the two devices instantaneously communicate and send prompts to the user.

Consumer Connections Are a Tap Away

Thanks to the simple steps associated with NFC, companies can shift their focus to leveraging the powerful technology for a maximum customer impact. Here’s an example: Instead of sifting through an owners manual when an appliance fails to function, a customer could simply tap their phone to an NFC tag right on the appliance and be redirected to an instructional video or troubleshooting resources. NFC also opens the door for companies to bring new and engaging experiences to customers. Budweiser allows customers to instantly add friends on Facebook by clinking glasses together with NFC technology. Google’s Android operating system offers Android Beam, a system that can “beam” contacts, URLs, photos, or files between devices by simply tapping them together.

Unfortunately, such simplicity and innovation can bring forth challenges as well. As with all new technologies that involve payment as a functionality, some do fear breaches–especially since so much of our personal data now lives on our smartphones. Further, implementing NFC does have costs associated. As NFC tags cost around $0.10 apiece, a mass marketed plan using it could quickly add up. Even after the tags, building software that incorporates the NFC tags could cost upwards of $7,000.

NFC + IoT

Still, the future holds promise for NFC technology, and combining it with other emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) unlocks even more possibilities. Always forgetting your keys? NFC+IoT has the solution: Locks that can read NFC transmitters allow access when they recognize a registered phone. Tired of fumbling around for your credit card when you’re in a rush? NFC allows payment at parking meters or subway gates with a simple tap.

NFC’s Greatest Use: A Frictionless Customer Experience

While NFC may seem just another fun smartphone trick, leveraging it in your business provides a unique way to decrease customer effort and increase loyalty. Imagine delivering timely, relevant information to customers with the easy tap of a smartphone. Winning brands will allow this–providing a frictionless customer experience–while businesses of yesteryear will struggle through continued customer effort. NFC’s ability to create exciting customer experiences and eliminate customer effort makes it a powerful marketing tool, and brands’ creative use of this technology is something to keep on your radar moving forward.

Want more information on NFC and how it can be implemented in your business? Check out our infographic: Getting Started with NFC